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Statement on human security

12 September 2001

The loss of human life in New York and Washington yesterday is keenly felt. The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) (Australia) sends love and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in the tragedies.

Over recent months, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld have been working hard through all diplomatic channels to persuade the international community that their plan to build a missile defence "shield" to "protect" mainland US against "rogue states" is in the interests of human security. We in WILPF (Australia) have been saying that their plan is not in the interests of human security - either of humans in their own nation state, the United States, or of humans elsewhere in the world. In fact, WILPF believes that their missile defence "shield" is a plan which, if enacted, would further jeopardise human security by precipitating a new arms race.

Clearly the US Administration has not had their eye on the main game. While they have been working to bring other nation states on board to support - or at least not to oppose - their billion dollar "missile defence shield", they have failed to take the necessary steps to avert threats to human security through the very simple means of ordinary commercial airliners being turned into weapons of mass destruction.

WILPF (Australia) believes that if we allow the present gross inequities in distribution of the world's wealth to continue, we in the affluent nations of the "West" must continue to expect anger and resentments to be directed against ordinary citizens.

In order to ensure human security needs, our leaders must stop allowing a system where 99,000 children die each day. According to the United Nations Human Development Report of 2000, under our present international economic system, 1.3 billion of the earth's 6 billion people are surviving on US $1 a day or less. This is, in and of itself, a violent system violating the right to life of millions of innocent people each year who die due to poverty.

While we have an economic and distribution system that allows such disparity and such inherent violence to exist as a "normal" part of everyday life, we have an extremely unstable situation. As the events of yesterday demonstrate, this instability has now reached volatile proportions.

We have all allowed to develop a system which is serving the interests of only a very few multinational corporations.

If world leaders truly value human security as they proclaim, then they will have to abandon their cant about "barbaric" acts of terrorism against "civilised" nations. To use such rhetoric and to try to posit an "enemy" other then the real culprit is to mislead people. To permit such racism to flourish is to further undermine our collective security.

The real "enemy" is greed. Of the 100 biggest economic entities in the world today, 51 are no longer nation states but mulitnational corporations. If we are to find long-term and stable solutions to human security needs, then we have no choice but to find a way to share the wealth of our planet fairly among all peoples and to stop allowing a system marked by gross inequities.

WILPF (Australia) believes that yesterday's disaster in mainland US is a failure of western foreign policy and economic policy. There has been a vacuum of leadership.

In this context, to suggest that further billions of dollars of the world's wealth should be diverted to the boardrooms of the multinational corporations who manufacture armaments is to build a white elephant missile"shield". It is a robbery of the world's people and does not make anyone more secure.

As the Australian Government under John Howard has been one of the most gung-ho supporters of the proposed US Government missile "shield", WILPF (Australia) encourages all Australians, and especially Australian women and girls, to contact your local MP, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, to insist that our real human security needs are met and that the Australian Government ends its support for the irrational missile defence "shield".

Cathy Picone, for WILPF (Australia).

Index page on Response to attacks in US


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